|By Chris Maza|
EAST LONGMEADOW While Korean Massage Therapy Center appears to have shut down, town officials are keeping a close eye on the situation.
The massage business, which was the subject of three separate police raids due to suspicious activity related to prostitution and illegal immigration, was denied a special permit after a unanimous vote by the Planning Board at its March 26 meeting.
The reason for the decision, according to Planning Board Chair Georgia Kingston, was that the uses of the property were "not in harmony with the zoning bylaws."
Planning Board member Michael Przybylowicz also cited "a lack of institutional control."
The special permitting process for all massage therapy businesses became necessary after residents approved an amendment to the zoning bylaw at the May 21, 2012 Annual Town Meeting. The Board of Selectmen, with the goal of eliminating Korean Massage, brought the bylaw forward.
Despite the Planning Board's decision, which required the business cease operations, there have been lingering doubts regarding whether the business closed.
A call to the Korean Massage's advertised phone number from Reminder Publications on March 22 was answered and the party on the line indicated the business was open that day.
Building Inspector and Zoning Enforcement Officer Daniel Hellyer told Reminder Publications that he has since been to the building twice at the request of the police.
"I got a call from the Police Department [on March 22] because they had been told that the business was open. I met an officer there and one of the ladies was inside," he said. "She said she was getting her personal belongings. There were not customers."
Hellyer said the second time he met the police due to a tip that the business was open, they found the doors secured with no apparent activity.
Planning Director Robyn Macdonald also stated that recent telephone calls to the business from her office were not answered.
Despite the evidence of inactivity, Hellyer said he would continue to monitor the building.
"When the building is rented to someone else, then I'll be happy," Hellyer said. "Anytime I pass by, I'll slow down, pull in and check on it."
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